Ridgefield math teacher among state finalists for presidential award

Photo of Peter Yankowski

RIDGEFIELD — A Scotts Ridge Middle School math teacher is among three state finalists for a presidential award in math and science teaching.

Merryl Polak was chosen along with two educators from Hartford and Newington as Connecticut’s finalists in the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The announcement was made through EdAdvance, a nonprofit organization established under state statute to support school districts.

“State Finalists represent the most outstanding teachers Connecticut has to offer and serve as both a model and an inspiration to students and fellow teachers,” the organization said in a news release.

The other finalists are Barbara Budaj, a high school mathematics teacher at Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford; and Christopher Kerr, who teaches computer and information science at Newington High School.

The names of the three finalists now go to a national selection committee where they will be eligible to receive the award. The program is administered through the National Science Foundation.

Up to 108 teachers are named for the award each year, the release said. Up to two teachers may be selected from each state as well as Washington D.C., U.S. territories and schools operated abroad.

Teachers who achieve the award receive a presidential certificate and $10,000. They also receive a trip to Washington D.C. to attend events and receive professional development.